May 22, 2017

Trump Administration Notifies Congress That It Will Renegotiate NAFTA

In one of his first actions after being sworn in, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer last Thursday sent a letter to leaders in the U.S. Congress notifying them that President Donald Trump intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 

The letter triggered a 90-day consultation period with trade stakeholders. After that pre-negotiation period is over, Trade Representative Lighthizer and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other top trade advisors can attempt to renegotiate the terms of NAFTA with Mexican and Canadian trade teams. 

Secretary Ross released a statement after the letter was sent. Secretary Ross noted, “Since the signing of NAFTA, we have seen our manufacturing industry decimated, factories shuttered and countless workers left jobless.” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), whose panel oversees trade issues, also issued a statement, but his comments concentrated on the benefits of NAFTA. Chairman Brady said, “There is no question that NAFTA has been tremendously successful for American workers, farmers and businesses. The United States enjoys a tremendous advantage through our NAFTA supply chain, for example, which allows us to partner with Canada and Mexico to create an integrated production base that improves our competitive edge against China and other competitors.” 

According to The Wall Street Journal, as part of its NAFTA rewrite, the Trump administration is considering rules that would ban currency manipulation. The Journal said that, while “Canada and Mexico haven’t been the focus of U.S. criticism over currency … adding currency rules to NAFTA could set a precedent for including them in future negotiations with Asian trading partners.” 

Metals Service Center Institute President and CEO Bob Weidner recently discussed NAFTA in Edge. (Click here to read his column.) Weidner noted that MSCI represents industrial metals supply chain members and their interests in all three countries. He said that MSCI looks forward to working with our colleagues in the United States, and in Canada and Mexico, and key Trump trade representatives to modernize NAFTA, which “is so critical to our industries and the U.S. economy.”